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November 4th 2006
Published: November 4th 2006
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Baan Siri RamaBaan Siri RamaBaan Siri Rama

A big, fancy hotel... with a shanty town directly behind it. Welcome to Bangkok
So, here we are in Thailand. Quite a contrast from Sydney, that's for sure! I have less than 15 minutes so this update won't be as extensive as most, but I'm sure some people are wondering if I got eaten by a dog or something, so I thought I'd better post.

We almost didn't make it here! When we got to our check in desk (with plenty of time, thank goodness) we were told we couldn't check in because we didn't have proof that we would be leaving Thailand within 30days. We WERE going to leave Thailand in 30 days by land, but we didn't have any proof of that because we didn't have any tickets or anything. This wouldn't fly with Emirates (they get a big fine if we get denied a visa) so we had to go and book an immediate ticket. The only thing we could book online was a plane ticket, so we booked one for Kuala Lampur that we will hopefully be able to change the dates on later. It was faaaairly cheap, so if we can't change it it won't be the end of the world but it would still suck. Luckily, the people at Emirates were very accommidating and even let us use their printer upstairs in their office. By the way, it's the NICEST airline ever! Free alcohol, amazing multicourse meal, individually controlled TV screens in every seat with well over 600 movies, games, tv episodes, music videos, and CDs to choose from, free toilettries kit.... the list goes on. Plus it was almost empty so I got to stretch out in a whole row to myself.

We had some trouble getting to our hotel, but eventually we made it. It was a fairly nice hotel, which we did on purpose to ease us in to Bangkok. On our first real day here we went to a market area near the Grand Palace, about 1/2 hour away from our hotel, which was.... an experience!!! I was getting a bit concerned about my time in Thailand, though, because there were absolutely no bathrooms I could use unless I was about to die, and no food I felt like eating without risking death. I wasn't sure how I was going to make it through more than a month here, but I did my best to remain optomistic. Getting a taxi that understood how to get us BACK to our hotel was a nightmare. Luckily we eventually made it with the help of a bilingual map and lots of pointing, but it took us about 7 taxis in the end. By the way, if I die in Thailand it will definitely be in a taxi. Drivers here are completely insane. And there's no seatbelts. My policy is to always sit in the back and focus purely on billboard watching and completely ignore what's happening on the road. Seems to be working so far.

Now we're in a new place--a hostel kind of near Siam Square (a major shopping center district). QUITE a difference from the impovershed market area we toured on our first day. The shopping centers are massive. We went into two yesterday. One was full of knockoff clothes and was big with Thai teens. My favourite part: a food court with food I wasn't afraid to eat! Yahhh!!! (I'm going to venture into the world of food stalls soon.... just not quite yet). The next mall we went to, Central World Plaza, was full of the real thing: every high end brand and label you could think of was represented in that mall. LaCoste, Guess, Guicci, Oakely... just name one. 8 massive, massive floors. When we went to get dinner, we ventured into this live concert that was going on. We watched for awhile and were eventually given free champagne! Turned out to be some kind of gala re-opening for a restaurant there. The whole thing was really funny. After a delicious ice cream sunday costing about $1.50CAN, we left the mall... only to discover two MASSIVE, extravagent beer gardens had been set up, both with big live groups performing. Then came the kicker: at the end of the beer garden area was an "Elle magazine fashion week" area with all these fancy dressed people in the fashion industry. We still have no idea what was going on, but it involved red carpets, lots of photographers, beer, Bailey's, and or d'oevers. We were in disgusting, sweaty, grubby clothes but somehow no one asked us to leave and we watched the proceedings for quite a while. Wow. Talk about extremes, and all viewed within 24 hours in the same city. We also found a sort of grocery store floor, which was great because we haven't seen any stores like that aside from 7-11 since we've been here. I think I'll stock up on packaged food. In a couple of daysw we're going to leave Bangkok for hopefully greener pastures.

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4th November 2006

Thanks for the update!
I was pleased to read your latest update Jess - the first from Thailand. Thanks for making the effort to post it as it sounds like access to the internet is not as easy as in Sydney. Hopefully you'll soon adjust to the culture shock and figure out where to pee and eat while in Bangkok. I also hope that you can keep taxi travel to a bare minimum! I felt guilty eating my supper tonight while thinking of you searching for something safe and edible (nobody is offering me free champagne though). Hang in there you daring trio...
4th November 2006

Eat!
The best Pad Thai I ever had was from food stalls -- just avoid anything you can't identify! :-) Anyhow - love the posts - dangerous to read though, just makes me want to pick up and leave. But only one more month of classes left! Have fun (or really... I should say - Keep having fun!)

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